Friday, May 25, 2018
News Roundup

Kenneth City mayor rejects council's good evaluation of police chief

KENNETH CITY — When it comes to evaluating the job performance of department heads in this town's government, the usual practice is for the council member in charge to rate the quality of work and have the mayor sign the document.

But the most recent job evaluation for Kenneth City police Chief Mike Rossi has been anything but usual.

The procedure began normally enough with council member Joanne DeSimone, who oversees the Police Department, writing an evaluation praising Rossi late last year. But, in an apparent first, Mayor Teresa Zemaitis refused to sign it and instead wrote her own evaluation criticizing the chief's performance.

Now, the remaining three council members have weighed in with their own job evaluations — at Rossi's request.

Rossi said he asked the three for their comments after Zemaitis refused to sign off on DeSimone's evaluation. Zemaitis recommended that he be put on probation for six months for doing such a poor job. DeSimone, on the other hand, had given Rossi a glowing report, rating him with an average 4.8 out of 5 possible points.

"It's unprecedented," Rossi said of Zemaitis' action. Had Zemaitis not written her own evaluation, Rossi said it's unlikely he would have gone to the other council members. But the mayor's criticism "concerned me so I wanted to know what everybody thinks." If he had a problem, Rossi said, he wanted to know about it.

The others vindicated him and his performance, he said. All three ranked him almost as high as DeSimone. Adam Mayefsky, who is not running for re-election, gave him an overall average of 4.37 points. Wanda Dudley, an average of 4.61 points. And Phil Redisch, who is running for re-election, gave the chief an overall performance average of 4.73 points.

"It reassured me that I'm doing my job and doing it correctly," Rossi said. "I'm proud of the direction I've taken the Kenneth City Police Department in the 15 months I've been the chief."

Zemaitis disagreed with the chief's tactics. She is required by town rules to sign off on job evaluations of all employees but said she has never regarded the duty as a kind of rubber stamp. Zemaitis said she has often written comments on evaluations when she saw something she disagreed with. But when it came time for Rossi's evaluation, she believed there was so much missing that comments written in the margin would not suffice. So she filled out her own evaluation.

Rossi, she said, had a right to go to other council members for comment but the appropriate request would have been for them to write letters to put in his file, not job evaluations when they do not oversee him or know his daily activities. And that, she said, resulted in some errors in the evaluations. One such example concerned Rossi's coming in to work early and leaving late. Not only does a council member who oversees another department not know if he's doing that, Zemaitis said she has received complaints that he does not regularly come in early and leave late.

Rossi has said before that he works 24/7 and keeps in touch through email and by phone when he's at home in Pasco County.

It's unlikely that a dispute over a job evaluation will come up again. Kenneth City voters last year approved a shift to a council-manager form of government under which the manager will be responsible for evaluating the performances of department heads.

Interviews with six finalists for the city manager job are complete and the job has been offered to Matthew Campbell of Crystal Beach, former assistant to the city manager of Dunedin. Campbell and the town are negotiating details of his employment.

Anne Lindberg can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8450. Follow @alindbergtimes on Twitter.

Comments
The Bucs’ Mike Evans is among the NFL’s best receivers, except when it came to this

The Bucs’ Mike Evans is among the NFL’s best receivers, except when it came to this

TAMPA — Only three players in NFL history have posted 1,000-yard receiving seasons in each of his first four years seasons: Randy Moss, A.J. Green and the Bucs' Mike Evans.RELATED: More Bucs coverageBut by Evans' standards, 2017 was "proba...
Updated: 5 minutes ago
Now let it sink in: 60 straight baseball wins quite the feat

Now let it sink in: 60 straight baseball wins quite the feat

FORT MYERS — It had been more than two years since Greg Olsen had to give one of those talks; the kind in which silver linings abound, while across the field, a different team celebrates winning gold.Olsen's Calvary Christian baseball team gath...
Updated: 17 minutes ago
Five members of 69ers motorcycle gang indicted on federal charges

Five members of 69ers motorcycle gang indicted on federal charges

Last year three members of the 69ers Motorcycle Club gang were implicated in the execution of a rival gang leader in the middle of rush hour traffic in Pasco County.Now those three and two other 69ers members have been indicted on federal charges tha...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Alberto to dump rain on Cuba before turning north and drenching Tampa Bay

Alberto to dump rain on Cuba before turning north and drenching Tampa Bay

TAMPA— The first tropical system of the 2018 hurricane season has formed in the Caribbean and threatens to drench the Tampa Bay area with heavy rains and potential flooding over the Memorial Day weekend.As of 2 p.m., Subtropical Storm Alberto — which...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Student says science teacher tackled Indiana school shooter

Student says science teacher tackled Indiana school shooter

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. — A male student opened fire at a suburban Indianapolis middle school Friday morning, wounding another student and a teacher before being taken into custody, authorities said. Seventh-grader Ethan Stonebraker said the science teache...
Updated: 1 hour ago
U.S. news outlets block European readers over new privacy rules

U.S. news outlets block European readers over new privacy rules

LONDON — U.S. news outlets including The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, The Orlando Sentinel and The Arizona Daily Star abruptly blocked access to their websites from Europe on Friday, choosing to black out readers rather than comply with a ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Baseball: Pinellas-Hillsborough all-star game this weekend

Baseball: Pinellas-Hillsborough all-star game this weekend

The Pinellas vs. Hillsborough senior all-star game will be played on Sunday at 7 at Tropicana Field. Here are the rosters for each team:PinellasNathan Campbell (Boca Ciega); Derek Gray (Dunedin), Lucas Smith (Northeast), Michael Regan (CCC), Tanner B...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tampa Electric appeals OSHA findings for October accident

Tampa Electric appeals OSHA findings for October accident

TAMPA — Tampa Electric Co. is appealing a recent citation by federal regulators. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration hit the utility with a $76,050 fine and a "serious" violation in April following its investigation into an accident in ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Country comedy band performs at Dessert Theatre benefit

Country comedy band performs at Dessert Theatre benefit

The Sweeney "Family" Band, a musical comedy act that blends country, folk and gospel music with knee-slapping humor, will perform June 3 at the CARES Elfers Center, 4136 Barker Drive, New Port Richey. Doors open at 1 p.m., with the show starting at 2...
Updated: 2 hours ago
The Bucs’ influence inside the Vegas Golden Knights’ runaway success

The Bucs’ influence inside the Vegas Golden Knights’ runaway success

The Stanley Cup final begins Monday in the unlikeliest of places, in a city brand-new to major pro sports and suddenly the center of the hockey world: Las Vegas, whose Golden Knights could become the first expansion team to win a championship.And whi...
Updated: 2 hours ago